Colombian Social Leader Narciso Beleño Assassinated Amid Ongoing Violence

Prominent Colombian social leader Narciso Beleño assassinated by paramilitaries, sparking outrage and calls for government action to protect human rights defenders.

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Mahnoor Jehangir
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Colombian Social Leader Narciso Beleño Assassinated Amid Ongoing Violence

Colombian Social Leader Narciso Beleño Assassinated Amid Ongoing Violence

Narciso Beleño, a prominent Colombian social leader and human rights defender, was shot dead on April 21, 2024, while entering his home in the town of Santa Rosa, Bolívar region. Beleño, 58, was the president of the Agromining Federation of the South of Bolívar (Fedeagromisbol) and a member of the National Agrarian Coordinator (CNA).

According to reports, Beleño was killed by paramilitaries amid an incursion by the Gulf Clan paramilitary group in the region, which began on April 18. The paramilitaries have been raiding homes, kidnapping residents, and killing several people in the area.

For over three decades, Beleño worked tirelessly to defend the territory and campesino community of the south of Bolívar from the presence of paramilitary groups that isolated and forcibly displaced communities in the region. He was a leading advocate of agrarian reform, promoting land restitution and sustainable use of natural resources.

Hours before his murder, Beleño had spoken out against the continuous presence of paramilitary groups in the region. The Agromining Federation had previously reported threats against its leaders. "Narciso Beleño was a leader committed to peace, the permanence of communities in the territories, a dignified life, and human rights," the federation said in a statement. "He had strongly denounced and warned about the presence of paramilitaries in the region and demanded solutions from the government."

Why this matters: Beleño's assassination highlights the ongoing violence and threats faced by social leaders and human rights defenders in Colombia, despite the country's efforts to achieve peace. The killing of the human rights defender has sparked outrage and calls for the government to take concrete action to confront paramilitary groups and protect activists.

After Beleño's killing, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia and the UN Verification Mission in Colombia condemned the murder and called on authorities to investigate, prosecute, and protect human rights defenders in the country. Social organizations have been denouncing the paramilitary incursion and the lack of concrete action by the government to confront these groups, which have been advancing in the region since 2022.

The assassination of Narciso Beleño is part of the broader context of the difficult road to peace in Colombia, which has been plagued by over 150 years of violence. The current government's 'Total Peace' project, led by President Gustavo Petro, aims to end the violence, but it is facing significant challenges, with ongoing crises in the peace talks with armed groups like the ELN and the EMC.

The murder of Narciso Beleño has sparked outrage throughout Colombia, with social organizations and the UN condemning the crime and demanding action from the government. "Narciso Beleño was a well-known peasant leader who dedicated his life to defending the rights of communities in the south of Bolívar," said a UN spokesperson. The Agromining Federation has called for justice and protection for social leaders in the region, as they continue to face threats from paramilitary groups.

Key Takeaways

  • Narciso Beleño, a Colombian social leader, was assassinated by paramilitaries.
  • Beleño was a prominent advocate for agrarian reform and land restitution.
  • His killing highlights ongoing violence against human rights defenders in Colombia.
  • The UN and social organizations condemned the murder and called for government action.
  • Beleño's assassination is part of the broader challenge to achieve peace in Colombia.